Final Fantasy V (PS) - 3:26 - Alex Eustis
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The fifth game of the Final Fantasy series was not released in the US until its Playstation remake, which is the version you see here. It is nonetheless a spectacular game, featuring a job system quite like the one in Final Fantasy: Tactics. Jobs are switchable between battles, and abilities, once learned, may be carried from one job to another.
I'd like to thank everyone who helped me or encouraged me to make this run. Credit goes to many members of the SDA forum, especially Genji and Mkt2015 for their helpful suggestions. Many thanks also to instructorpepe, whose amazingly comprehensive and accurate algorithms/stats FAQ on gamefaqs.com made this run possible, and Boco, whose tool-assisted run of the first world contained tricks I never would have thought of. Let's not forget Nate, and Radix for editing, and hosting this run, and the verifiers.
For those of you who'd rather not watch the whole run, the last five segments, especially the very last one, are probably the most entertaining.
Like any good speed run, this is the final result of much discussion, research, planning, testing, re-planning, re-testing, practicing, and recording. It's true that my this is my first speed run, and my 2D gaming skills can't stand up to the best of them, but for an RPG the planning is more important to the final time than speedy execution.
The main reason I chose this game is that the flexibility of the job system allows for almost limitless different strategies. By tailoring a strategy for each fight, you can close out most combats within only one or two rounds. Due to several abilities being powerful almost to the point of brokenness, this can be made to work no matter how low your characters' levels are. Really! This means that I never have to grind for levels during the run; this can't be avoided in most RPGs. Viewers may be especially interested in the last few segments, where having the proper strategy wins the day despite the fact that any attack from any boss could kill my characters in one hit.
A word about segments: 25 might seem like a lot to some people, but it's actually exercising some restraint. No amount of skill will sway the random events in the game to your favor; only redoing the segments over and over again can accomplish that. One could continue adding segments pretty much ad nauseum to get a better time. For instance, you never have to encounter any monsters outside if you save every 15 steps or so. Taking this idea to its logical conclusion, you'll have potentially hundreds of completely uninteresting segments. This run aims for a happy medium: it uses luck manipulation when the effects are greatest, but still has a viewable number of segments.
Without further ado, here is the summary of the run by segment.
Mostly plot in this segment. Contrary to what might seem like common sense, "battle speed" doesn't make battles go any faster; it just gives you less time to choose your actions. In some cases, setting the battle speed to fastest means you go after the enemies instead of before them.
In various other versions of this game, the protagonist is named Butz or Bartz by default, but in this version there is no default, so he's just B.
2: Pirate cave and wind shrine
I fought one battle in the wind shrine to get level 2 for Siren. Wingraptor is a pushover as long as you grab the sword for Galuf.
Thank goodness that thieves have every non-combat ability I could ever want, and that their crystal in the first set! The only problem is, their dash ability is a little too fast perhaps, because I can't always control it perfectly. I fumbled around in the crystal room, and forgot what I was doing in the menu screen to boot.
3: Torma canal, ship graveyard
Karl Boss is easy to kill with bolt. It didn't even matter that I forgot to move to the back row.
You can see that goblinpunch is tremendous in the Siren battle. In fact, that's the general pattern for blue magic in this run; each time I learn one, total ownage ensues against several future bosses. Actually, goblinpunch only becomes an uber-weapon when your level exactly matches that of your target, making it only feasible to use on two bosses in the game.
4: North mountain
I fight the two tatus in order to achieve level 3 for the goblinpunching of Garula in the next segment. True to the meaning of "speed run", I defiantly charge through the poisonous flowers.
Magissa gets the distinct honor of being the first victim of rod-breaking. Without the ice rod from Kerwin Town, I would have no way to beat Magissa and her beefy husband who normally comes to her aid. Still, Galuf manages to get himself fried again.
5: Garula, first visit to Karnak
Garula is normally capable of crushing a party of level 3 characters like peanuts. He must be terminated with extreme caution, using the latest in paralyzing weaponry and goblin martial arts.
I fight some monsters in order to learn exploder, which will come in handy later in the run. I targeted my bolt incorrectly against the mottletraps, though, which cost me about 10 seconds. (It was supposed to hit both.)
When you hit Liquiflame, it changes form, either to a tornado that is about as threatening as a tranquilized kitten, or to a hand that is totally invincible against magic and devastates you with fire2. Guess which form I'm hoping for.
7: Karnak castle explosion
For some reason, the dash system is whacked out in this castle; you move at 2x speed independent of having a thief and/or holding the dash button.
I had to keep restarting in order to not be attacked by any sergeants; they're nearly impossible to run away from and I don't yet have the flee ability. Also, the boss cooperates and teaches me doom claw in a timely fashion. This skill pretty much kills anything it can hit.
8: Ancient library
With ice rods on my side, Ifrit is more bark than bite. I then use his powers to quickly learn level 5 doom from the forced battle. Oh precious, precious lv. 5 doom. Most bosses are normally immune to anything involving a big floating skull, but this spell bypasses that immunity! Of course, it only works if the target's level is divisible by 5, but this can always be attained through a little "level arithmetic," once I learn blackshock and L2 old later on.
Biblos can be doom clawed, as you can see. Lady Luck decided to give me a first strike, which made me very happy. As far as I know, Biblos is the only boss who can be struck first.
9: World touring, Sandworm
I spent all the money I'd been collecting on a bunch of rods and ninja skills, which are needed for various boss fights.
Sandworm's biggest weakness is the aqua rake spell. I have no way to learn it. Its next biggest weakness is the water element, which I exploit by having three ninjas flip out and throw water skills at it. Occasionally three of them wouldn't quite do the trick, so at the last moment I decided to throw in that silly knife attack. Other than that, this long segment is just plot development and fleeing from enemies.
10: Crayclaw, Blackflames, Adamantaim
Clay Claw has pathetic HP for a boss at this point in the game. The battle against the blackflames is for the purpose of learning blackshock. Yes, I could have thrown that skill sooner; it was a silly mistake. Faris takes one (two, actually) for the team in the Adamantaim battle.
11: Airship, floating city, Puroboros
With my characters' levels, the flamethrows will incinerate me if they get even one turn. Ninjas are faster than they are, fortunately. Soul Gun is likewise no problem.
It took me quite a few resets before I could run through the whole floating city at 4x speed without screwing up too badly.
Archeoavis is one of the more durable bosses I have to face. Although it appears to have two only forms, the first is actually comprised of four different forms, each corresponding to a different element. Forms 2 and 4 can be hit by doom claw, so I probably should have used it. This way is pretty much the same speed, though.
You can tell I have no fear of Puroboros based on the fact that I fight them in the same segment as Archeoavis. I have $toss now, which is t3H r0><0r$.
12: Chimerabrain, Titan, interplanetary travel
Chimerabrain is vulnerable to doom claw. I steal a dragonfang from him because I'll need them much later, in the N-Zone. Titan's final attack will kill everyone . . . unless they're floating or jumping. Lancer Faris to the rescue!
Yeah. . . when life gets you down, just jump into an energy vortex and hope it will reunite you with your friends and not kill you. That's what I always say.
13: Big bridge, a long hike
Big bridge is unique in that you can avoid all the encounters (except the ones you see) by avoiding certain squares. This is why I take such a strange path across the bridge. Gilgamesh is another tough boss since he's not vulnerable to any of the standard blue magics. I think it may have been faster to release a sand bear or two (from world 1) against him.
14: Moogles, werewolves
In the Moogle cave I appear to get swamped by enemies. Normally I restart when this happens, but actually I got fewer encounters than average; the ones that occur in the water are fixed and unavoidable. The bosses in this segment are very easy.
There was a little incident involving a Kornago, a Weresnake, an Aquazone, and me not remembering to equip the flee ability. How embarrassing. It only cost me a few seconds though.
15: Dragon valley
In this segment I hunt down one DrgnZombie for its fang. This one took a whole lot of resets, either because Golem got me (shame on his hit-and-run tactics!), or the fenixdown missed against the DrgnZombie, or the DrgnZombie never appeared, or I made too many movement errors, or I got way too many encounters, or I got miserable luck in the weed battle.
Oddly enough, Krile's little tincture doesn't actually cure Reina of the poison, as opposed to the dragon's snout back on North Mountain. No, I didn't set that up on purpose! I didn't even know it before I watched the video.
16: Zeza's fleet, barrier tower
I steal the Genji glove to use against the mummies in world 3. Since blackshock cuts an enemy's level in half, rounding down, it's very effective against enemies whose level is 1 modulo 10 (such as Gilgamesh) when combined with L5 doom.
17: Atomos, Guido's cave
Atomos falls to the same level arithmetic as Gilgamesh. Guido's cave is the stupidest part of the game in my opinion. It has only two types of monster, no treasure, and no boss! They should have just left it out. Also, when you think about it, the whole section of the game from the barrier tower's destruction up until the end of Moore forest, our heroes are pursuing nothing more than a counterproductive plot development ending in Galuf's tragic death. Why not just attack Exdeath's castle right away, for goodness sake!
18: Moore area
Moore village is a serious powerup zone. Here is where I buy a number of truly awesome spells, especially Break, which converts an ordinary knife or sword into a Terrifying Blade of Instant Death. I also buy a bunch of mixing ingredients for the N-zone. The expensive ethers turned out to be unneeded. The reset spell was a fail-safe in case the last segment turned out to be too frustrating, but I didn't need it either.
There are some very nice chest pickups in the forest, with plenty of gil or items worth as much as 20000! Unfortunately I have to go a slightly out of my way to get them, and the monster encounters are incredibly dense here. But, I need to start stockpiling money to throw at Neo-Exdeath at the end of the game.
The crystal battle is a bit of a luck-fest, but I managed to evade most of their blows, and the ones that landed weren't concentrated on a particular character. The last three $tosses must to be done in quick succession in order to bypass the crystals' desperation spells.
ExDeath doesn't do a quick enough job of killing Galuf, so I need Galuf to kill himself. I gave him the bonemail so that he'd be vulnerable to fenixdown. It's odd that the first one missed; I don't think that ever happened before.
19: Exdeath's castle
Here is where I learn L2 old, which hits any even-level enemy, causing it to start losing levels one by one. This means that L2 old plus a properly timed L5 death can kill any even-level boss, and moreover, an odd-level boss can sometimes be blackshocked to an even level. Very, very handy. The magic dragons never uses L2 old unless they're charmed or controlled, and even then they cast it on their own party instead of yours, necessitating the reflect spell. I wonder if anyone has ever actually discovered, without using a guide, that L2 old can be learned here!
My favorite monster name is in this segment: "Adamngolem." I think it's supposed to be an adamantium golem, because it was "Adamagolem" in other translations I've played. Hilarious!
20: Rejoining the worlds, antlion
The two bosses in this segment, Exdeath and Antlion, have even level. 'Nuff said.
I skipped some dialogue that normally occurs in the square in front of the Eldest Tree. Oddly enough, I never found any other dialogue skips of this form.
21: The great pyramid
I must have miscalculated Faris' knight ABP, because she actually would have been fine without the 10 points from the gargoyle battle. Then I could have had used 3 samurai to make it go faster. Oh well, better to have too many ABP than too few. Also, I managed to avoid every single one of their attacks! I didn't even need to.
It's quite difficult to avoid both those snakes, and I'm not certain that I even saved any time by doing so. It's mostly the principle of the thing, I guess. Thankfully the robots are much easier to avoid. They don't belong in an ancient pyramid anyway!
The mummies are a significant threat because they will always attack first, and they do enough damage to kill a mage at my level in one hit. The solution is to get knightly Faris' defense rating high enough to completely nullify the mummies' attacks (a.k.a. Operation Shining Armor). If the other characters have critical health, the knight's cover ability will defend them as well -- a tactic known as the knight lockout. This is why I intentionally poison everybody on the spikes. I was also careful to save two fire rods from world 1 for damage enhancement.
Her initial form is weak against fire, but the blackshock + L2 old + L5 doom combo is faster. Faris is still a knight because she needs the 20 ABP towards learning 2-handed.
23: N-Zone part 1
In this segment I also sell practically all the gear I ever collected in the game, just so I can fling the money at Neo-Exdeath. It's amusing that even the humblest shopkeeper in the game (who sells only tonics and tents) has enough cash on hand to buy my entire collection.
WoodSprite is even level, but still annoying because she often casts reflect on herself, resulting in a reset.
24: N-Zone part 2
I really hate Apprehendr because he has so many attacks that leave me flat on the floor. You see him being extraordinarily tame. Also, this battle is the opening debut for the Mix ability. Pretty cool, huh? Sampson power boosts your level by 10 for the duration of the battle. Dragon power (which I use later) boosts it by 20! Blessed kiss is just plain broken. When used on a character, it grants haste, berserk, and image all at once, which is probably just a little too good. But there's more. You can also use it on enemies to give them berserk status, even if they have berserk status immunity! This can have glitchy consequences; see the next segment for more details.
Apocalypse is an optional battle. I fight him for his save point only. That, and he's so incredibly stupid that he doesn't deserve to live.
25: N-Zone part 3, final battle
This segment definitely gives a good climax to the run. It's chalk full of crazy anti-boss tricks, job/ability/equipment-shuffling madness, and answers to questions such as "Why did you go out of your way to give [insert character name] so many [insert job name] ABP? Why did you collect [so many dragon fangs/so much money/item X]?" This one took quite a lot of planning, folks. The N-Zone music is pretty cool, too.
Catastroph is lv 71, so the natural way to attack him is blackshock + L5 doom. However, blackshock has a very low chance to hit, and his earth shaker attack is much too powerful to survive, so this idea isn't really feasible without using the save point and a dragon power.
Halycanos is even more blackshock-resistant than Catastroph, so I decided on a knight/2-handed/blessed kiss/level pumping strategy.
Twin Tania uses lethal all-party attacks almost exclusively. Because of the coral ring, B manages to barely escape into hiding. Fortunately, the reason for the name "Twin Tania" is apparently that when he's about to use gigaflare, he swaps in his identical, but extremely vulnerable sibling. (Yes, I just made that up). This is B's chance to come out of hiding and strike.
Exdeath/Neo Exdeath: If you blessed kiss the first form, you actually prevent it from changing into Neo-Exdeath when it dies. As you can see, I don't do this because it would be so very LAME and anticlimactic. To use it would save about 3 minutes in the final battle + another minute or so from not having to collect certain chests or sell items. So it's not an overwhelming difference. . . and did I mention it would be LAME?!! If there's enough demand, I will redo the run since there are other improvements I'd like to make anyway.
Anyway, the final battle goes perfectly, as well as I could hope. The first blackshock connects, the dreaded White Hole is not used, and I don't screw up the L5 doom timing! Together, these events mean that Exdeath bites the dust on the third round.
Those familiar with this game would probably guess that Neo would be much more of a threat than the tree form. However, against my strategy he's practically no threat at all! The part that's responsible for Almagest (big spell, everyone dies) gets taken out right away by break sword. The part that uses Grand Cross (another big spell I don't want to be hit by) has its timer reset, and then gets killed, before anything bad can happen. The part that uses physical attacks is no worry thanks to the knight lockout, and the part that uses magical attacks is "persuaded" (via cheapo kiss) to use physical attacks instead. (Yeah, I had to use it this once.) All four parts are accounted for. The only way I can lose is if B repeatedly misses his break sword attack (very unlikely), or if I just plain screw up. And yes, that fire rod actually does make for one less $toss.
Captured by Nate.
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